WiSolar, a prominent green digital utility startup, has turned down a $1.5 million loan offer from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa. The decision was based on what the company deemed to be unfavourable loan terms, potentially hindering its growth and mission.
WiSolar, a pioneering digital solar company headquartered in South Africa, specialises in on-demand solar solutions, specifically catering to residential users. The company, established in 2016, is known for its unique power purchase agreement (PPA) business model, which allows homeowners to access solar power without any upfront costs.
The IDC, a government-funded South African development finance institution, aims to promote economic growth and industrial development in the country. To achieve these objectives, the IDC deploys various financial instruments such as debt, equity, quasi-equity, guarantees, trade finance, and venture capital to provide financing to entrepreneurs and companies, assisting them in enhancing their industrial capabilities.
The IDC’s loan offer was made under the corporation’s energy resilience scheme, with a terminal drawing date of March 31, 2025. It also has a ten-year term, requiring monthly capital repayment of annuity instalments from the draw date.
WiSolar’s rejection of the loan offer was based on several key factors. First and foremost, the company cited a lack of alignment between the loan terms and its mission, as well as disregard for other stakeholders in its value ecosystem. According to WiSolar, the relationship between the startup and the funders was characterised as condescending and disrespectful towards founders and executives.
Additionally, WiSolar expressed concerns about the excessive disclosure requests associated with the loan, fearing that these could lead to the exposure of sensitive trade secrets. The company also noted that the loan terms showed zero regard for other stakeholder interests and time.
Tonye Irims, Founder and CEO of WiSolar, commented on the decision, saying, “Our experience leaves a lot to be desired. In a country with such a high unemployment rate, one would have thought the focus would be on social impact, non-legacy business growth, green energy job creation, and skills training, including youth, women, and people with disabilities.”
Furthermore, Irims highlighted the broader consequences of such loan agreements, stating, “Lack of funding continues to be the biggest reason for talent flight and unhygienic job creation in Africa. Entrepreneurs must pursue funding routes that align closely with their current needs and objectives. Any form of funding that attempts to bully or change the direction of the company’s mission must be boldly rejected.”
WiSolar’s stance against accepting the IDC loan underscores the importance of aligning financing options with a company’s core values, mission, and strategic objectives.
WiSolar is a digital solar company based in South Africa, specialising in on-demand solar solutions for residential users. Founded in 2016, WiSolar is renowned for its innovative power purchase agreement (PPA) model, which allows homeowners to access solar power without the need for upfront payments. The company’s mission centres around promoting green energy, job creation, and skills training, particularly focusing on underrepresented groups.
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